‘Education’ is a system of giving and or receiving information and knowledge through instructions via teaching with the help of text books. Most common platforms for imparting information through instructions are schools, colleges and universities.
Education has another definition as ‘an enlightening experience’. In the prevailing scenario, education solely depends upon text books along with the guidance of teachers, lecturers and professors. In that context it poses serious concerns as to whether education confined within the framework of text books and teaching staff can ever reach the standard of an enlightening experience for the taught? Certainly not!
Picture this! A teacher is describing the ancient stone sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora to a class full of curious students with the help of a textbook. The kings who commissioned the construction of these caves, the intricate stone carvings and the exact location of the caves, their relation to ancient Indian history – all these facts are being explained from the text book. Students are listening to her, trying to grasp all that she explains. But the students may still wonder about so many facts! How tall are the sculptures? In an era when there was no electricity, how did they even manage to carve out rocks in the dark? What about cranes and lifts? How did they move huge boulders?
On the other hand, when students actually visit the site, they get spellbound by the enormity of the stone sculptures, the mathematical calculations behind the perfect alignment of the body, hand and facial features of these sculptures, the stories behind the wall paintings at Ellora et al. The children get an idea of the immense efforts put in by the skilful craftsmen of an era gone by, who did not even live to enjoy the credits of their exquisite art work.
The imagination of every child is limitless like the universe. The child will have many questions several of which may remain unanswered if there is limited interaction with the subject at hand. So it is indeed safe to say that true-Education extends beyond books and in fact beyond the classrooms too. There only, education becomes an enlightening experience.
All over the world, there is a growing feeling that our education system needs to be mended. Technology is moving ahead at lightning speed. Books cannot cope up with this information overload. The environment around us is constantly changing. But sadly revised editions of books are not released as often. Books merely summarize and encapsulate a lot of information in a nutshell often leaving out important facts which have to be grasped by observation or interaction.
Books give us a brief idea of the subject at hand. More often than not students memorize these facts and appear for exams, scoring good marks. But they do not understand the practical aspects of what they learn through books.
Consider this extremely simple principle of colour theory – Our art book states that when blue and yellow is mixed we get green colour. But unless the students try it out themselves, they will not know the exact proportion in which blue and yellow colours are to be mixed to get that perfect shade of green.
Education can be procured from the unlikeliest of places. It can be obtained from local guides at historical sites shedding light on facts that have not been documented before. One can learn the importance of maps by asking for directions at a local shop. Similarly one can learn about unknown wild fruits and medicinal herbs from local farmers or tribals. These different sources of knowledge ought to have to be important part of education.
A child can be taught subjects on generosity, courage and several other moral values. However, unless the child comes across a situation where he is supposed to help somebody or protect himself from harm, he wouldn’t be learning these valuable life lessons in a correct manner.
Today’s education system needs a 360 degree tune-up that would contribute to the holistic development of a child or even an adult for that matter. That can be achieved in so many different ways. Movies, documentaries, audio visual clips, field trips, involving students in project work; group discussions and so on can go a long way in extending education beyond text books.
Another interesting fact is that not all students learn by the read-write method. Some are visual learners, some are auditory and some are kinaesthetic learners. It would be extremely uninteresting for such children to read books for gaining knowledge. This lays stress on the fact that education must encompass knowledge gained via means other than books without which a child would be like a frog in the well, with extremely limited knowledge.
It is often seen that many children hate maths. Such kids will fare poorly if they are made to simply solve problems from a textbook. However if they are imparted knowledge about the usefulness of maths outside school, they would love to do Maths. For e.g. ask a child to calculate the cost of ten packs of his favorite biscuits. In the car, ask him how long it would take to reach a particular place if the speed is so and so and the distance is so and so kilometers. Ask him if his pocket money would be sufficient to buy a certain toy. Ask him to design a house on paper using geometrical patterns. There then the child becomes inquisitive and automatically start loving maths.
Education must enable a child to keep humanity knitted together. It should teach children to strive for a better world. The best example is that of Malala Yousoufzai. She would not have known the importance of courage, peace, humanity etc. if she had just read about courage from text books. A tryst with a militant’s bullet almost proved fatal for her. This militant organization expected her to succumb to fear and give up learning. But she was determined to prove them wrong. She left her home, her country and continued her education. Her book ‘I am Malala’ is one of the best selling works of this century. She was able to pen the book based on her experiences and not by reading another book on how to write a book. No one can imagine that she would have accomplished so much by simply reading books?
Education needs learning using different audio visual media, interaction with the society and environment, exploring places, trying out different cuisines and a lot more. Only then students can soak in knowledge like a sponge does. Of course books are needed to get the basics in place. However they do not mark the end of the road to education and knowledge. Hence, the system of education must have to opt for and accept the fact that Education is and will always go beyond books.